Why Hang on to Losers? Divestitures and Takeovers

  • Author(s): ARNOUD W. A. BOOT
  • Published: Apr 30, 2012
  • Pages: 1401-1423
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1992.tb04663.x


We study the divestiture decisions of managers who care about their reputations. Managers' divestiture and investment decisions are publicly observable, but managers privately observe signals with respect to the future payoff distribution of investments they have initiated. We establish that in equilibrium there is too little divestiture. These inefficiencies create the opportunity for wealth‐enhancing divestiture‐motivated takeovers. A key result is that only managers of targets with “middle of the road” asset specificity should consider the takeover threat credible. These findings suggest that uniqueness of assets is an important determinant of both agency costs and takeover activity. Our analysis leads to several empirical predictions.

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